Category Archives: Rants

Bring it, kid.

Booth, day two

Booth, day two

The evening of the second day at OCCC contained the perfect storm of uncomfortable weather, pathetic sales, and now this. I understand that some of my photos look so unbelievable that people question how long it took me to piece them together in Photoshop, but this little encounter takes the cake.

Scenario: I already had a visitor in my booth, and after we chat for a bit, he scrolled through one of my bins to check out some prints. Just then, another visitor walked up. This kid couldn’t have been more than 20 years old, and the first guy in my booth got to hear this exchange.

The kid points at the four-foot-wide copy of “Monument Valley Sunset”

Monument Valley Sunset

Monument Valley Sunset

  • “How long did it take you to take that photo?”
  • I was there for the entire afternoon, and–
  • “NO! I mean the camera! Like how long was the camera setting?” (The tone in his voice is the first indication that he doesn’t know crap, but just wants to start trouble.)
  • Oh, the shutter speed. It was about a second.
  • Kid is getting adamant: “So, you only spent one second taking that photo and you have THE GALL to sell it for FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS?!!? I mean, it was only a second! That should be a LOT cheaper!”

The little devil on my left shoulder offered a fleeting suggestion: Since the only other visitor was near the back of my booth behind the print bins, and most of the crowd was outside enjoying the OKC Philharmonic and fireworks, how many sucker punches could I land on this punkass before anybody stopped me? Six? Maybe seven?

That never solves anything, so I decided on a more permanent solution. I tapped into my inner Roland (avoiding the NSFW audio) and proceeded to spend the next twenty minutes schooling this kid in the fine art of photography:

  • It actually took me thirty years to take that photo — that’s how old I was when I took it, and therefore that’s how much time it took me to finally figure out how to do it.
  • As for development, it took me eight months to get it just right. Now that I know the process, I can do it again in less than an hour, but learning it in the first place was vital.

The guy at the print bin made for an escape, and gave me that “I’m sorry you have to go it alone” look.

I’m fine. Over the past five years of doing art shows, I have heard all of this before. I’m more than ready for it.

He looks at “Into”

Into

Into

  • “So, how’d you get the sun to do that?”
  • What sun? That’s not the sun, it’s a street light.
  • “What about this fog effect? That’s got to be Photoshop.”
  • I took that photo at 4:00 in the morning in heavy fog, and the photo is straight out of the camera. (Well, aside from the fact that it’s a panorama of two photos stitched together horizontally.) I only use Photoshop because that’s the best way to send it to a large printer. (Well, aside from the fact that I print from Lightroom.)
  • “Why were you up at four in the morning? That’s silly.”
  • It would be silly to take that photo in broad daylight. Behind all this fog was a cluster of dormant trees. Compositionally, it does nothing for the scene. This photo, as it looks right now is PRECISELY the photo I wanted to take.
  • I avoid taking my camera to very many locations in broad daylight because dramatic atmosphere is what I’m looking for. Just look around.

He points at “Antelope Ceiling”

Antelope Ceiling

Antelope Ceiling

  • “So this is like a simple cave. I could have done that.”
  • You probably could. It’s a slot canyon in northern Arizona, one where every square inch is photogenic, and it’s packed with hundreds of people from lots of tour groups. Pay the $30 and you’re in.
  • “Oh, yeah?”
  • With that many people around you, how would you take a photo in there without showing any of the crowd? Would you have thought that photo was taken looking straight up? This area along the bottom is not the ground, it’s a wall.
  • “Hrmph..” (I couldn’t tell if he was impressed by my work or frustrated that his immense chasm of ignorance was starting to show.)

He looked around…

  • “So, if I had all your equipment, I could have taken all of these photos too?”
  • Maybe. But maybe not.
  • Pop quiz, kiddo —

I point at “Emerald Vista”

  • — How would you shoot that?
Emerald Vista

Emerald Vista

  • “I’d just point at it and take it.”
  • And your photo would be completely overblown from the horizon upwards without this (I pull out my soft-edge three-stop Cokin GND filter) — this allows you to gather all that information in one exposure. No HDR, no photo-layering, that’s it.
  • “Whaat? A stupid piece of plastic?”
  • Yes. Take the entire range of sunlight from dark to light and divide it into parts. Call them “stops of light”. In any given scene, the human eye can see about 30, but the camera can only see 7 or 8. This means you can take a photo that includes detail in extremely bright areas, but your shadows will be solid black. And vice-versa — if you want detail in the shadows, your highlights will be solid white. Hold this filter in front of the lens, and it will darken the sky just enough so the camera can see more of it.
  • “Hrmph..”
  • And if you’re trying to learn on your feet, you will miss these shots completely. Monument Valley — the light was only there for ten minutes. The rainbow was only there for three minutes. Back to Emerald Vista — there were two, if not three layers of clouds moving in separate directions. As they shifted, certain patterns of light would appear and disappear on the ground on a moment’s notice. Even the mighty Gary England couldn’t predict that the weather would align that way.

“So I guess it’s more complicated than I thought.”

goddamnright-2

Once he left, I cranked the box fan to its highest setting to cool off.

AT&T Sucks, and Apple isn’t helping

While out driving, I need a constant supply of music, talk radio and other such noisy things to keep my brain from eating itself.  A few weeks ago, I was out doing a photoshoot in Broken Bow, in the southeast corner of Oklahoma. That part of the state isn’t very well connected the rest of the modern world aside from a few paved roads, electricity, and running water. Internet access is spotty, and cell phone access is nigh on non-existent.

I was not surprised to experience slow data, dropped calls, and complete loss of signal. But I was able to use the TuneIn app to buffer up an hour of online radio. By that evening however, I received notification from AT&T that I had “reached at least 100MB offnet data usage in this billing cycle.” In other words, I was roaming. Not only was I roaming, but the carrier notification in the upper-left of my screen still said “AT&T”. Within 15 minutes of receiving the email from AT&T, the notification switched from “AT&T” to “Off Network” for the first time in the history of me owning this device (and for the first time while traveling to this part of the state.)

Here are the problems I have with this:

  1. The carrier notification in the upper-left of my phone said “AT&T” the entire time, and only switched to “Off Network” AFTER I received email notification that I was roaming.
  2. The “Data Roaming” feature in iOS was disabled, and always has been. (Cellular Data was enabled or else what’s the point?)

Called AT&T

They said that disabling “Data Roaming” in iOS only disables data if I am traveling outside of the US. (Apple’s iPhone documentation does not mention this at all.) AT&T said that in order to fully prevent data roaming charges, I would have to disable “Cellular Data” as well as “Data Roaming”. This feature completely disables data over cellular, and it would require me to manually enable it when I am back in AT&T’s coverage area. But if the carrier name in the upper-left of my phone always says AT&T, even when I am roaming, how am I to tell when I am actually in AT&T’s coverage area versus silently incurring off-network data roaming charges?

Called Apple

They said that disabling “Data Roaming” in iOS should actually disable data roaming (because well, that IS what it says, right?), but here’s a fun fact — carriers are allowed to override carrier settings in iOS. Basically, AT&T is ignoring this feature, and making that “Data Roaming” switch no different from that mystery light switch in your hallway which does absolutely nothing. (The difference being that instead of being able to make that silly joke that you’re turning the lights on in the neighbor’s house, AT&T is reaping a shitload of money from you, not telling you until after they have done it, and then blaming you for being stupid.)

In comparison, a friend of mine was on the road trip with me, and she had an Android device on T-Mobile’s network. She had the equivalent settings in her software (Cellular Data = ON, Data Roaming = OFF), and to my total lack of surprise, her phone had no signal in the area, never attempted to roam, and it automatically re-connected to T-Mobile when we left the area. This is exactly how I would expect those features to operate. Not only does this functionality not exist on iOS over AT&T, but there is no effort from either company to enable it.

If this is a bug, they need to get on it. If this is a feature, it is not documented, and not user friendly in the slightest.

PSA: What NOT to do when you enter an art booth.

My first blog post from back in 2008 is titled “How to Sell Photography at Art Festivals“, and it encourages people who are interested in doing art shows to study what other artists are doing.

Sure enough, another photographer has been stopping by my booth over the years to ask questions, and I’ve been happily offering him advice on everything under the sun:

  • use a pole tent instead of an EZ-Up
  • use Propanels instead of fabric walls
  • support the tent with sta-bars, panel hooks, and velcro
  • use CFL lights hooked up to a marine deep cycle battery and inverter

Ordinarily, he will snap a few photos of my setup, and I will get the warm fuzzies because I’m glad to be helpful.

my booth, my lights, my prints, my stuff.

His latest visit however went a bit too far, and I didn’t realize it until it was too late.

He started out the conversation with a little pity party of how he couldn’t afford the booth fee for this particular show. We joked about the empty booth spot next to mine, and how he ought to sneak back in with his canopy and cover up my new-found corner booth.

Well, it turned out he really did bring “his booth” after all. As customers entered my booth and asked me about my work, he would linger around and butt into my conversations and talk about his work. Someone asked me where I got my canvas frames done (at a friend’s place), and this lingering fellow interrupted to mention some place across town where he gets his work done. Someone asked me about my next location where I might be shooting, and I just blurted out the first random place that came to mind: Bodie, California. Sure enough, this other guy had his own photos of Bodie on his phone! Yes, he squeezed around me to show one of my visitors his photos while standing in my booth. If I were just a bit more impulsive (I either had the patience of Job or was in total shock), I would have snagged his damned phone and thrown it out of the tent! Having him go run after it might have prevented what happened next — he started handing out his business cards.

And to think that the conversation started with how he was too much of a cheapskate to pay the booth fee and get into the show. The next time he stops by, he will definitely get some new advice about “something interesting that I just learned.”

Also posted in Tutorials

As of 2011, No More Limited Editions

Heck with all this. Read Brooks Jensen’s article.

…..

I discussed this topic over the past year with a couple posts (first post, second post), and I have come to the conclusion that it is best for me to break the limited editions for all of my prints.

  • If you purchased my work for the sole purpose of investing in a limited edition piece, and this news upsets you, please contact me and we can discuss this on a one-on-one basis.
  • If you were considering purchasing my work because of its limited nature, and this news has adversely affected your decision, I apologize. But I’m glad I got the news out to you in advance!
  • If you purchased my work for aesthetic, emotional, historic, or other personal reasons not related to the implied limited nature of the specific print, thank you! And I look forward to appealing to more people of a similar mindset!

—–

Specifics

Instead of offering my prints in a limited edition of (say) “x of 250”, each new print will have a single number in the corner. This will basically be a serial number. It will represent the number of copies of the specific image in circulation up to that point (not respective of print size). Each of my Certificates of Authenticity will be updated to reflect this. For images in now-broken editions, I will continue the series of their print number but simply not write “/250” after it. As for the older prints in my inventory which still have “x/250” on them, the “250” will be rendered meaningless. New images for 2011 — which have not yet been printed — will not be in limited in the first place.

My reasons / assumptions

  • Limited editions are an artificial and self-imposed limitation placed on the creative process.
  • The rules for limited edition printing go back 500+ years, and they break down when applied to a digital workflow.
  • According to “the rules”, I was doing it wrong from day one, and it was too late to fix it. (I was including multiple print sizes in a single edition, which is a big no-no according to some.)

Side effects

Some art festivals and galleries have strict rules requiring digital photography to be offered as limited edition prints, and my decision is preventing my work from ever getting into those events. I’m comfortable with that. (This does not affect my ability to get into art festivals in Oklahoma.)

Even though this allows me to press the print button a zillion times, I will NOT abuse the privilege. To be honest, my edition of 250 for each image was way too high — In the three years I have been selling work, I have rarely printed over 30 copies of any given image, and I’m likely to get bored with an image long before I approach 250. In fact I have already stopped printing some of my first-year images due to a lack of sales. More will be rotated out in 2011. (They might be remaindered at reduced prices, we’ll see..)

Alternative

I have been bouncing around the idea of posting on my website the current number of copies of each photo sold so far. (I already keep a sales database, so this number is simple to generate.) This would serve as the “live” counterpart to the “/250” I was handwriting on the prints. This can also indicate the number of the next print for sale. If I decide to stop printing a certain image, I will mention that printing has halted, and that number will freeze.

Downsides

  • This might seem irrelevant because there’s nothing stopping me from resuming printing of a formerly halted image.
  • This will include stolen/missing prints (of which I have several.)
  • This will require a redesign of my website, which (thanks to my full time job) I don’t often have the time to do.
  • It might pose a problem of customer privacy (despite the website not containing any specific customer data). Depending on how often I update the number, this might make it easier to figure out when a given customer bought what. (Then again, you’d have to know which image they bought ahead of time.. or something.)

The only bad part about Paseo..

Backstory

Over the past few years, another retailer in the Paseo District has been setting up their own art show — right next to the Paseo Art Festival, on the same weekend. In fact, the two shows are so close together that many visitors assume that it’s all one big show.

Now, this sort of thing happens all over the place — where major art shows have “satellite shows” popping up right next to them. Most of the time, both the main show and the satellite show recognize eachother and form a friendly symbiotic relationship. The main show would be more strict and would feature established artists, while the satellite show would feature emerging artists while “feeding off the gravity well” of the bigger show. For instance, Tulsa Mayfest has Blue Dome, and the Ann Arbor Street Fair is actually four art shows in one!

Likewise, “Paseo proper” has a fairly strict entry jury process, and it only allows a certain number of artists from each medium. The show right next to Paseo picks up where it leaves off — if an artist doesn’t pass Paseo’s jury, the other show offers them a space.

Problem

Even though some people see this as an opportunity for more artists to display in the Paseo Arts District, others consider it a little corner where ‘second-hand artists’ are shunted off to simply sap Paseo’s customer base. Granted, the satellite show doesn’t have a rule disqualifying “buy/sell artists” (people who sell stuff that they didn’t make), and it doesn’t have a limit on the number of artists in each medium. The management at Paseo claims that their art festival is the only way that the district makes any money, and this other show’s mere presence is hurting their bottom line.

Solution

Since they can’t seem to get along, the management of the Paseo Arts District petitioned the city to create a city ordinance which would somehow punish the other show. According to rumor, their first attempt involved putting a protective bubble around art shows — “multiple shows occurring at the same time should be a minimum of two blocks apart”, but that apparently didn’t pan out.. Instead, they rammed through an ordinance that requires every artist who is doing business outside of a designated arts district to pay the city $50 for a sales permit, above any existing booth fee that a given art show will charge. The ordinance also prevents outdoor sellers from obstructing right-of-way — you can’t set up in the street.

SOURCE : Oklahoma City Municipal Code — Chapter 39, Article III, Division 2

—–

Sure, they jacked up the rates for the satellite show, but the art festival at the Oklahoma City Community College (15 miles away) took collateral damage. As of 2011, the total booth fee for the OCCC Festival will go from $300 to $350 — making it the most expensive show in the state. — NewsOK.com link

According to this news article from April 15, the proposed ordinance contained the line (39-70, b) — “Any outdoor seller doing business on a lot owned by a educational, religious, or charitable institution shall be exempt for the permit requirements of this section.” I wonder what happened to that line? It would sure be handy right about now.

If the new show at Bricktown takes off (which I hope it does), then they will be affected too. How will the “right-of-way restriction” affect the Bricktown show since it takes place entirely in the street?

Thanks, Paseo.. I love ya and all, but dammit, your little tussle with your neighbor is screwing it up for everybody — even people who have nothing to do with you! Your little “solution” doesn’t affect Kathy — it affects THE ARTISTS. She doesn’t have to pay the fee, WE DO. Sure, she could deduct the $50 out of her booth fee, but she won’t. Nobody will. A better solution would be to deal with Kathy directly without dragging everybody else into it. On top of that, Kathy isn’t your “neighbor” — she runs one of the shops in your very district! Again, what does this have to do with OCCC, Bricktown, and any other show that might pop up in the largest city in Oklahoma? ..that’s what I thought.

Also posted in Art Festival Reviews